There’s no need to break the bank to have a blast in The Mile High City. Here is a weekend itinerary filled with ways to see the city for less.
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Choose from a variety of culinary styles and affordable options at Avanti Food & Beverage, a food hall that’s lined with gourmet food vendors (sort of like an indoor food truck park), with a patio that enjoys a spectacular panorama of downtown. You’ll be able to choose from tacos, arepas, pizza, fried chicken and more, ranging from $5 to $15 per plate. Pair it with a $4 Colorado-brewed pilsner from Avanti’s central bar.
Now take a nice stroll across the 15th Street bridge to make your way to MCA Denver–Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, whose admission prices go down to $5 after 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday. Here you can gaze at genre-bending works of contemporary art in a chic downtown space.
A good old-fashioned diner breakfast at Sam’s No. 3 will get your day off to a delicious start and will only set you back $3.50 for a burrito filled with hashbrowns, scrambled egg, cheddar cheese and green chili. Need something a bit healthier? Go for a steel-cut oatmeal or yogurt bowl with fresh fruit, granola and honey for $6.59 at the upbeat Prosper Oats.
Now catch the Free MallRide shuttle and take it a few blocks down 16th Street to Denver Union Station to explore one of LoDo (Lower Downtown’s) most vibrant areas. The renovated 1914 train depot is a great place to take pictures in front of Beaux-Arts architecture, browse the shops and flower stands, and see locals going about their lives. On Saturdays from mid-May to mid-October (between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.), the Union Station Farmers Market welcomes local farmers and food producers for a bustling market on the plaza. Stroll through to nab a few free samples.
Time to peruse the enormous shelves of the famous Tattered Cover Book Store, one of the best indie bookstores in the country. There’s a small Tattered Cover outpost inside Union Station, but a larger location is close by on 17th and Wynkoop streets. You’ll find a huge newsstand, current bestsellers, excellent employee picks, gently used tomes and a large bargain book section.
Score some secondhand and vintage clothes at cut-rate prices at the thrift shops congregated on South Broadway: Buffalo Exchange, Goodwill Denver, Boss Vintage, Decade and Goldmine Vintage are filled with every kind of style, from fine to funky. If you just can’t get enough of the vintage hunting, head farther south to Antique Row, where you could spend hours “picking” among a trove of antique shops.
A Saturday evening happy hour at a tiki bar? Yes, please! Stop by Adrift between 5 and 7 p.m. for discounted cocktails that pack a punch and happy hour nosh-ables, too.
When it’s time for more substantial eats, Maria Empanada is just down the street and will fill you up with piping-hot savory pastry pockets, for $3.95 each, or thick slices of tortilla espanola (akin to a crustless quiche) for $5.95.
Denver is a true music lover’s city, but if the big-venue ticket prices aren’t in your budget, catch some local live music on South Broadway’s delightfully dive-y smaller venues: the Hi-Dive, Skylark Lounge, 3 Kings Tavern or Herman’s Hideaway.
Breakfast at the bright-and-cheery Moxie Eatery consists of egg sammies on English muffins. Try the farm egg, bacon and gorgonzola for $6.
Next, walk off a few of the weekend’s calories at City Park, which has a lovely network of paths that run alongside two picturesque lakes and historic monuments. Plenty of benches are available to sit and people-watch throughout the park’s expansive 1,500-plus acres.
After a lunch of roasted cauliflower ($4) or chicken tinga tacos ($3.50) at Dos Tacos, it’s over to your last stop of the weekend. No visit to Denver would be complete without a bit of craft brewing culture. Head to Great Divide Brewing Company's downtown brewery and taproom. Here you can sample any of the beers on tap or in bottles, as well as the occasional tap room-only special release — and learn all about the art of brewing on a free, 30-minute tour. Cheers to a fun Denver weekend that comes in big on fun and small on spending!
Looking for more things to do? Check out these free activities.